We seem to have a general consensus on the NEQ6.
It does represent reasonable value for money, works well, and has a reasonable weight carrying capability.
Of course it isn't in the same league as Astro Physics, Losmandy, and Paramount etc, but these are in very diffrent 'price bracket'.
I have always maintained, that you should always buy the best mount you can afford, even if this impacts on your choice of scope. For imaging, the performance of the mount is crucial.
I think it is short-term thinking that would lead to the purchase of the HEQ5, as you will undoubtedly at sometime want to carry more weigth than it can handle. The NEQ6 still has it's limitations in this respect, but does offer better capability.
Scope wise, well this can be a case of "how long is a piece of string". It is dependent on two major factors, your budget, and what you want to do with it.
For Planetary work, a large aperture (for resolution) and a long focal length are best. In this respect, the SCT is an ideal choice, as long focal length is achievable, with having an unwieldy scope. The focal length of a 12" SCT for example, is over 3m, but contained in a much shorter OTA.
DSO imaging breaks down into two area, wide-field for the big winter nebulas, and a much smaller field of view (FOV) for the majority of galaxies (M31 being the exception).
The 'bottom line', is that there is no one scope fits all solution.
I have been through quite a few scopes, and made mistakes along the way. Two such mistakes were, buying a budget triplet refractor, only to find that it had optical distortion problems, and buying a 12" SCT (aperture fever
), then finding that it's use was limited to quite small galaxies, and the plantets. Excellent for visual work, but not for general imaging.
Based on experience, I have no settled on an 8" SCT and 4.25" (110mm) triplet refractor.
This setup now pretty much cover all that I want to image. The SCT with a 0.62x reducer provides just about the right FOV for most galaxies and the Moon. With a Barlow or Power Mate its works well on the planets.
The 110mm refractor FOV, used with and without a focal reducer, covers most of the nebulas.
This combination is within the weight capability of the NEQ6, but not the HEQ5.
So, my recommendation would be, an 8" SCT (Celestron Edge or Meade ACF if the budget allows), and a 80mm Refractor.
If the budget doesn't stretch to a good triplet (don't buy a budget one!!!), then go for a good doublet. You will get some Chromatic Abberation (violet halos around the stars), but this is easily removed in Photoshop, using Nole Carboni's 'Actions' plug in.
The 80mm refractor will also serve you well as a guide scope for the SCT.